Background: Aedes aegypti and A. atropalpus are related mosquitoes that differ reproductively. Aedes aegypti must blood-feed to produce eggs (anautogenous) while A. atropalpus always produces a first clutch of eggs without blood-feeding (facultatively autogenous). We recently characterized the gut microbiota of A. aegypti and A. atropalpus that were reared identically in the laboratory. Here, we assessed the effects of specific members of the gut microbiota in A. aegypti and A. atropalpus on female fitness including egg production.
Methods: Gnotobiotic A. aegypti and A. atropalpus larvae were colonized by specific members of the gut microbiota. Survival, development time, size and egg production for each treatment was then compared to axenic and conventionally reared larvae.
Results: Most species of bacteria we tested supported normal development and egg production by A. aegypti but only one betaproteobacterium, a Comamonas, supported development and egg production by A. atropalpus to equivalent levels as conventionally reared females. Aedes atropalpus females colonized by Comamonas contained similar stores of glycogen and protein as conventionally reared females, whereas females colonized by Aquitalea did not. Small differences in bacterial loads were detected between gnotobiotic and conventionally reared A. aegypti and A. atropalpus, but this variation did not correlate with the beneficial effects of Comamonas in A. atropalpus.
Conclusions: Specific members of the gut microbiota more strongly affected survival, size and egg production by A. atropalpus than A. aegypti.
Keywords: Clutch size; Development; Microbiota; Oogenesis; Reproduction.